SALT LAKE COUNTY — The Canyons School District Board met once again to discuss COVID-19 related changes within the district, deciding Tuesday to move two more high schools online starting Thursday and to adjust the entire district's school week schedule.
Starting Oct. 5, Canyons School District will have classes in-person for four days a week week, with Fridays set aside as a virtual learning day.
"The teachers are already overwhelmed, trying to get those kids caught up," said Draper Elementary School Principal Christine Waddell.
She was one of several school principals who conveyed that something drastic needs to happen because teachers can't keep going on the current schedule.
"I have to see my teachers crying every day because of how scared they are," Waddell said to the Canyons School Board.
She and the others made a plea for the board to change the school schedule, to give teachers more time to juggle in-person and online learning.
"They need support from all of us, before things get too out of control," she said.
Principal Paula Logan at Butler Middle School said this year has created a heavy burden on the mental and emotional well-being of teachers. As students bounce in and out of quarantine, and some come to class while others learn online, she expressed the strain and stress it's created for teachers.
She described how teachers have told her they can't finish this school year, and have needed to be talked into returning to class. Others have suffered panic attacks, she explained.
"I have never seen this," Logan said. "I have never seen the amount of burnout, and exhaustion and fear. It's not the end of the year. It's week 5. And they are done."
They asked the school board to support moving the Canyons School District to a four-day in-person school week to allow teachers one day of planning.
"If we want the best conditions for students, no matter the seat time, we need to do something different," said Molly Hart, Principal at Albion Middle School.
After much discussion, the board voted to approve the four-day in-person schedule. The board then voted to make Fridays the at-home virtual day.
The board voted to move two high schools completely online because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in students and staff at the schools. The change will take effect Thursday and will be in place for just over two weeks.
"Both Alta and Brighton I would move to a virtual only, and tomorrow being a transition day," said Canyons School District Superintendent Rick Robins, giving his recommendation to the board based on what he said the health department advised them to do.
The move comes after the board just decided last week to move Corner Canyon High School completely online, also after a rise in COVID-19 cases.
Brighton High School Principal William Sherwood spoke at the meeting, saying he supported the move. He said 805 students were absent from school on Tuesday alone.
"As much as I worry about some of the repercussions of online, I think a reset is what's needed," he said.
Robins explained that they would move the schools online until Oct. 7*, and then resume class in person.
*[Editor's Note: Canyons School District officials initially stated Alta and Brighton high schools would stay online until October 12. This article has been updated to reflect the correct date of October 7.]